January 10, 2007

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Headlines (6:15)
Three separate bomb attacks rocked the southern Philippines today ahead of two regional summits to be attended by leaders from 16 countries. Girlie Linao reports.

Today’s bomb attacks killed seven people and wounded 35 others. The explosions occurred despite stepped up security throughout the Philippines for its hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and East Asian summits. No suspects have been identified in the bombings that struck the southern cities of General Santos, Kidapawan and Cotabato in the evening today. But foreign governments had warned that terrorist groups were on the final stages of plotting attacks during the summits in the central province of Cebu. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said he has been assured by security officials that the 16-nation event will be safe and that offensive operations against terrorist groups are underway. Terrorism will be one of the major topics in the regional summits, where the 10-member ASEAN is expected to sign a legally binding convention on counter-terrorism. Other matters to be discussed include faster economic integration, the North Korean nuclear controversy, proposals for a rules-based ASEAN charter and energy security. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Girlie Linao in Cebu, Philippines.

The interim Somali government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Mogadishu following three days of attacks on the Ethiopian troops in the city. Abdurahman Warsameh reports.

The aim of the curfew is to ease unrest and violence that ensued after Ethiopian troops entered the Somali capital last month. The Ethiopian government sent its military into Somalia to help the internationally recognized transitional Somali government defeat the Islamists in Somalia. Many locals see the Ethiopian army as occupying force. Today, unknown attackers shot a rocket at an Ethiopian armored vehicle in Mogadishu. Two people were wounded when soldiers in the vehicle responded by firing indiscriminately. The attacks on the Ethiopian troops in the Somali capital are becoming more frequent. Meanwhile, the US military has launched other air strikes in areas on the southern most tip of Somalia near the Somali-Kenyan border. The Bush administration believes the area shelters an al-Qaeda hideout, but local people say the bombings are killing innocent civilians. There are unconfirmed reports that American Special forces, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian troops are engaged in ground battles with the Islamists and alleged terrorists in the area. For FSRN this is Abdurrahman Warsameh in Mogadishu.

Scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center have found that 2006 was the warmest year ever recorded in the United States. For the first time under the Bush Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has explicitly linked increases in greenhouse gases to the steady rise in global annual temperatures. In a news release published yesterday, NOAA states that the past 9 years have (quote) “all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the contiguous U.S., a streak which is unprecedented in the historical record”.

Meanwhile, in it’s Action Plan for Energy, the the European Commission has called for a 30% cut in carbon emissions worldwide. Today, it has set its own bar lower at a 20% cut below 1990 levels by 2020. Naomi Fowler reports from London.

While environmentalists would like to have seen greater emissions cuts, it’s the world’s most ambitious target so far for fighting climate change. The head of the International Energy Agency has described the EU plan as ‘ambitious but realistic.’ Today’s European Action Plan on Energy calls on EU member states to start what it calls a “new industrial revolution.” Renewable energy is set to provide only 10 percent of EU consumption by 2010; and so the plan calls for member states to invest in wind, water and solar power farms supplying electricity in a fully liberalized EU internal energy market. Europe is still smarting from the shock of recent Russian gas supply cuts and it’s obvious to all that Europe must diversify energy sources and reduce external dependency. The EU has again called on the US – the world’s biggest polluter – and other major economies to play their part too. The EU energy strategy will be debated by environment ministers of the bloc’s 27 countries next month in Brussels. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

A number of Mexican legislators have announced plans to accuse the governor of Oaxaca of human rights abuses before an international tribunal. Vladimir Flores has the story.

Congressional representatives from the opposition PRD Party say they hope to take a legal complaint against Oaxaca’s governor Ulises Ruiz to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. They accuse the governor of crimes against humanity for the violent repression of members of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, or APPO. Activists, non governmental organizations, and PRD senators and federal deputies have decided to ask the International Red Cross to visit all of the prisoners from Oaxaca’s political conflict as soon as possible. The announcements came after a Congressional forum in which APPO members presented 40 testimonies of alleged abuses committed by the Federal Preventative Police in late November during a violent crackdown in Oaxaca. The testimonies include stories of beatings, humiliations, sexual abuse and death threats while in policy custody. The APPO will mobilize today to demand the unconditional release of all of those who remain imprisoned on political charges. Oaxaca City, Vladimir Flores, FSRN.

Bush to Unveil New Iraq Strategy (3:45)
The President will address the nation tonight about his new strategy in Iraq. He will lay out a political, economic and militaristic plan and acknowledge some of the mistakes made. But instead of decreasing the use of the U.S. military like many Generals and public opinion polls have suggested, Bush is expected to order at least 20,000 more troops to Iraq. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Iraqi Army Begins Conscription Drive in Hope of Weakening Militia (2:35)
Fighting appears to have ended for now on Haifa Street in Baghdad, the restive neighborhood near the green zone that has been a site of guerilla activity since 2003. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government are reporting that at least 50 people were killed in four days of clashes. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has launched a conscription drive in the largest neighborhood held by the Jeish al-Mehdi, the largest Shiite militia in the country. David Enders and Hiba Dawood report.

Senate Judiciary Committee Probes Data Mining (4:15)
As a result of a lawsuit and years of student and parent organizing efforts, the Pentagon announced it will no longer collect student social security numbers or share student’s information with other federal agencies. Protecting private information and evaluating the use of billions of dollars the federal government is spending on information technology contracts was on top of the agenda on Capitol Hill today. Ingrid Drake has more.

Hugo Chavez Sworn-In for Third Term in Venezuela (reader)
Hugo Chavez was sworn in a Venezuela’s President today, repeating a well-known phrase from Cuba’s Fidel Castro “Fatherland, Socialism or Death: I swear it!”. Chavez was elected with 63 percent of the vote last month; he’ll serve as President through 2013.

Daniel Ortega Takes Power in Nicaragua (4:45)
Former guerilla rebel leader Daniel Ortega takes office as President in Nicaragua today for the second time. Ortega was despised by the Reagan administration while he served as president of Nicaragua in the 1980s. Beginning in 1981, first covertly, then openly, the Reagan administration recruited, trained, and equipped a proxy force, known as the Contra that attacked agricultural cooperatives, schools and health centers and targeted teachers, health and religious workers. Nan McCurdy has more.

House of Representatives Moves on Minimum Wage anchor wrap – (1:30)
The House of Representatives has moved on its second priority for its first 100 hours of business, successfully passing a two dollar and 10 cent increase to the minimum wage. The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 1997, although more than 20 states have passed minimum wage increases in the past 10 years. But some are weary that a simple federal increase doesn’t go far enough, and ignores other working class issues such as child care and transportation. If passed in the Senate, the new federal rate will stand at $7.25 per hour. The move comes the day after the House successfully implemented security recommendations from the 9-11 Commission. It aims to better secure air and sea ports, and the borders. It would also set up diplomatic programs in the Middle East to improve U.S. image abroad in Muslim countries. Both the minimum wage increase and the 9-11 Commission recommendation measures must still pass the Senate, where it could prove more difficult with the Democrat’s slim majority.

Kevin Cooper’s Lawyers Appeal Death Penalty (2:30)
Attorneys argued whether to overturn Kevin Cooper’s death sentence in front of a 3-judge panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday. Cooper was convicted of murdering 4 people in 1983. Cooper’s scheduled execution in 2004 was halted due to a last minute appeal alleging misconduct and faulty evidence. Christina Aanestad reports.

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